Toddlers: 24 Months+

Help! 3 year old and discipline

ChelsiAnn13ChelsiAnn13 member
edited July 2014 in Toddlers: 24 Months+
Hi everyone

My daughter turns 3 August 20th and she is a tiny version of me, attitude and all. Talk about karma. Anyways I don't know what is the best form of discipline.

** How do you discipline your 3 year old? How do you discipline in public? **

More detail:

I try and give her choices. For example she has to get ready for bed and change into pajamas. I know she won't want to so I tell her to go pick out her pajamas Instead of even asking if she wants to. So she still feels she has a choice. Or in an attempt to pick and chose my battles we will practice compromises (she knows what that word means) on issues that aren't worth the fight.

Lately she has been whining a ton more, fighting over making choices, starting to hit, whining some more and fighting every little thing (even when she there is nothing to argue about she seems to find something to whine/argue/ be upset about). She will talk back and even say things like "dont talk to me" or snapping "dont touch me" or "dont push me" if anyone even tries to guide her or stroke her head or anything. You could just brush her arm and there is a chance she will snap at you with her sassy mouth. She is also fighting to get ready to go places a lot. She will play around/ procrastinate a lot too. Tiny things seem to upset her.

If I walk away for any reason, even because I am about to snap, she freaks out/ freaks out more . So I know some of her tantrums are about wanting my attention.

What I have been doing:

I have been using time outs. I have also threatened not to go places or do things , but more often then not she eventually (eventually being a key word) does what ever needs to be done or I have said it in a moment of desperation/ anger and we don't have a choice but to go. So I'm not following through.
I haven't been following through on time outs like I should always either. It seems I keep giving her second chances so I know my consistency is a big problem.

It's like any and all patience I have ever had is just gone so I am not helping the situation either. :(

I believe I'm not being consistent because I have some sort of doubts about if the way I'm disciplining is the right choice, especially when she is having a melt down during a time out while in public. I also have a hard time hearing/ seeing her upset but I know I can suck that up for her own good if I believe in what I am doing.

TIA!! I am getting desperate and I had the worst mommy moment to date a few days ago, it's time I turned to the bump for some guidance. Lol

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Re: Help! 3 year old and discipline

  • I just read another post that hinted to me this stuff could also just be a phase. Any thoughts on that?

    And if it is just a. Phase how do I handle it? I still discipline as normal right? (Because phase or not she is still misbehaving and needs to know that is unacceptable. Right?)

    Sorry I'm just so unsure of myself right now.
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  • I could've written most of this post.  DD will be 3 in September, so I'm sure it's an age thing and they'll grow out of it.  They're just learning how to express themselves, but also still learning the right ways and times and places to do that.  But I completely feel you that patience is tough, and you're right - phase or not, it's inappropriate and they need to learn that.

    When DD is messing around and not cooperating when we're getting ready to go somewhere, I walk away and tell her that I don't have time for her to be uncooperative.  It happens mostly when I'm trying to help her get dressed to go somewhere and she's picking up toys, changing her baby dolls, etc.  I put down her clothes and tell her I'm going to get myself ready or do something else, and I'll be back when she's ready to cooperate.  She usually screams "No, mommy, come back, I need you to help me!"  So I go back and she cooperates better.  When she starts playing around again, I do the same thing.  A lot of times in the morning before school now, I let her watch Mickey while she gets dressed, and the TV gets shut off if she's not listening/not cooperating.  That always gets her attention quick.

    We only do time outs for stuff that she actively does that she knows is wrong - hitting, kicking, spitting, name calling - or for things that are dangerous and she knows better - climbing on top of her play table, etc.  Dangerous stuff doesn't usually happen, because we explain why it's dangerous and why she shouldn't do it the first time, without a time out, and then she normally doesn't do it again.  but if she does, time out.  My kid positively HATES time out, and she cries through the whole thing because she's so upset with herself, so we don't even have to use them all that often.  Come to think of it, maybe I should extend time out to include general uncooperative behavior . . .

    Don't threaten things that you aren't prepared to follow through on, and always do what you said.  It's hard sometimes to be consistent, but it's so important for kids this age, I think.  Like, don't say "we're not going" or "we're leaving" unless you're truly prepared to not go or to leave wherever it is.  Also, I think that with kids this age, little things can be huge, so taking away a toy or a treat can be just a huge a punishment as not going somewhere, kwim?  With DD, we can always threaten to not do stories at bed time, and it generally works, or no colors/toys in the bath (those Crayola bath drops color things) - generally just saying we're going to take pretty much anything away from her tends to get the desired reaction.

    You're not alone.  It's probably a phase.  You're doing a good job.
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  • DD was 4 in March and can have the nastiest attitude, it's like dealing with a 16 year old, and it's been going on for a while so unfortunately it's not a phase.  She does have phases of good weeks and bad weeks, but it's been going on since she's 2.

    I pick my battles.  It was 90 degrees today and she wanted to wear a sweater, she wants to wear long sleeves often, so she wore a sweater while we were out and long sleeves to bed.  With her nasty attitude she'll say things like "really mommy?!?!" "duh" and other things that just come out ridiculous from a 3 or 4 year old, but are rude.  I find it really hard to teach tone.  I tell her it's rude and that's not a nice way to speak and try to help her choose different words, but I don't punish her for it.  Obciously she's heard it somewhere, it's obnoxious, but she's too young to get it. 

    I do my best to ignore tantrums.  If she wants to yell and scream about something we'll put her in her room, but it doesn't contain her.  She'll leave her room, break off child locks, climb over baby gates (all since 2) so time outs really don't work, I just have to ignore her.  Usually after flipping out for several minutes I'll hold her and then I'll be able to calm her down and talk to her about what went on.  I have to let her flip out for a while though before trying to talk to her.

    A few months ago I also starting spanking.  While ignoring her tantrums she would hit me sometimes and that's not ok, so if she hits me I spank her back on her but.  She's recently left a store without me, she got hit for that when we got home too.  It may be controversial, but I've seen improvements with her behavior since we started spanking, and we've only done it a few times.
  • Ditto.  This sounds exactly like what we are going through.  DD will be 3 in September. We don't have a specific discipline strategy and I feel like I need to make up my mind.  I'm not doing anything by the book.  I do my best to be consistent (1) in my reaction to her and (2) to the consequence for a particular action.

    1) Regardless of the behavior, I remain calm and matter of fact and leave emotion out of it. 
    2) Action = Consequence - same every time - regardless of time of day or location.

    These are two things I used for behavior management when I was a teacher.  I found that students responded best when they knew what to expect from me and I was consistent.  I am still working out what reasonable consequences should be for a 3 year old, especially with each new phase (like running into her room, slamming the door and yelling "Leave me alone" - where does she get this stuff!?!) 

    As previously mentioned - I think/hope most of it is a phase.  Being in the Education system, though, constantly reminds me to take it seriously.  The coping mechanisms they learn in this stage continue to transfer as they get older.  The older they get the harder it becomes to establish & reinforce boundaries.  Good luck and I look forward to reading other advice.
  • Ugh sounds like my 3 year old to a T.... also when he gets mad he says im gonna push you down... your not my friend... I think hes picking up a lot of it frm the older kids at daycare...
  • I am so ready for this 3 year old "phase" to be done also.  Leaving for daycare in the morning and getting ready for bed is the hardest at our house.  

    I've found the best way to get her back on task when she starts trying to play with toys is to tell her I'm going to leave and get ready myself and when she's ready to get dressed to let me know.  She almost always stops what she is doing and says "I'm ready! I'm ready!"  and then she's cooperative again for a while.  

    We also have used the trick of letting her watch TV while she gets dressed and I brush her hair.  It just goes so much more easily.  More TV time is not my preference, but it is better than the crazy battles getting out the door can become.  

    We also give her lists of what needs to happen and often will let her choose the order they are competed in.  i.e we need to 1. go potty 2. change clothes 3. brush teeth 4. brush hair.  What do you want to do first?  And then since she is motivated by her vitamins, we remind her that she has to complete everything before she can have a vitamin.  

    Sometimes these things work better than others.  It's constantly a work in progress.  

    For bad behavior like hitting, sticking out her tongue, etc we throw away "treats".  She has a bag of treats from easter, halloween, etc that we allow her to eat on occasion after supper.  If she sticks out her tongue, she knows she has to go to her bag of treats and throw one away.  She stopped sticking out her tongue pretty fast after that one.  

    So far, these are the things that work for us.  But now that I've said that, they will probably stop working and I'll have to find something else.  Isn't this age fun?!
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  • I disagree totally with the spanking because follow the logic - "Child is upset so child hits.  Parent is upset that child hit so parent hits."  How does that turn into a lesson on "we don't hit when we're upset?"

    I absolutely agree with not threatening something you can't make good on.  Focus on what she really loves.  A toy? A show?  A special snack?  Let her know that if she does X again, Y gets taken away and then do it.  Stick to it.  Age 3 is the pits.
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  • I'm just lurking and when I saw this, I had to post. My son will be 3 in December and if you want me to be honest, the only word I can think of to describe him lately is hell. He hits (and I'm 3 months pregnant so this is a NO), he bites, he calls me bad names, and is even starting to curse (which I do not do, must be his dad). He has really bad ADHD so I've grown used to dealing with him jumping everywhere and screaming constantly, but his behavior has gotten out of hand lately. I've resorted to taking his iPad or not letting him go outside for the day, but it rarely helps. I'm with you on this one.
  • Honestly, when reading your post I don't think anything that your DD is doing is really THAT bad.  It all just sounds like normal toddler behavior. 
    My DD is 2 years 4 months and she does similar things to what you're describing.  The whining I ignore completely.  She also seems to fight everything when getting ready to go out, get dressed, or go to bed.  Some days are better than others.  I usually give her a choice between 2 outfits.  I ask her to choose the outfit she would like.  If she doesn't cooperate I count to 3.  If she hasn't chosen by the time I count to 3 then I choose for her.  I use the count to 3 technique for everything.  It seems to really work for her.
    I don't threaten not to go somewhere.  If you threaten not to go somewhere, you need to follow through and honestly, not going somewhere would not only be a punishment to her but to me.  I can't be cooped up in the house with her all day.
    I try not to make a big deal of getting ready.  If she is cooperative, she gets to choose her clothes and dress herself.  If she is not, I do it for her.  I try not to get frustrated with her.  I notice she is actually much less cooperative when I am frustrated.
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  • You have to be consistent and you must not loose your temper. If you go back on your word, whether it's for an intended consequence or what behavior gets a consequence, you are teaching her that what you say can't be trusted. Kids crave boundaries. If you aren't being consistent and are allowing her behavior to change your plans, then who is really in control?

    I also sit on the unpopular side of discipline in that we spank. But, before you totally disregard anything I say, hear me out... In our house, spanking is discipline, not punishment. There are established guidelines for what behavior gets a spanking and there is a set routine that happens every time. We do not spank to hurt our child and we do not spank out of anger.

    Our routine is this: if my daughter behaves in a way that warrants a spanking, she gets one warning to correct her behavior. She knows what gets a spanking: dishonesty, disrespect, and disobedience. We categorize fits and screaming (in anger not fun or just being a kid) as disrespect. If we give her a warning and she doesn't change her behavior, she gets a spanking. One of us, either my husband or I, immediately takes her in another room, out of sight of anyone (because discipline is not meant to shame the child or embarrass them), and sits her on our lap. Then we talk to her.

    We ask her why she's getting a spanking - what happened? We want to be sure that she knows what behavior led to getting disciplined. It has to be immediate so they actually tie the misbehavior to the discipline. You can't make threats for "when your father gets home" or "when we leave here." The consequence must be immediately after the misbehavior or the child won't really understand the connection. After she tells us what happened and what she did, acknowledging her action, we calmly talk to her and connect the action to the behavior: "When you throw a fit and scream at Mommy that is really disrespectful. You're going to get a spanking now for being disrespectful."

    Then we put her on our knee and give her 2 swats with a wooden spoon. Our daughter is a few months away from 3 and still wears pulls ups, so she gets spankings over her pull up - the goal is not to hurt her, it's to correct and teach her. We use a wooden spoon so the spanking is associated with an inanimate object and not something she associates with us, like our hand or my husband's belt. After she is spanked, we sit her up and hug her. I talk to her about how it makes me so sad to have to spank her, but that's the rule when (disrespect/dishonesty/disobedience) happens. I tell her I love her and ask if she's ready to apologize. We've taught our daughter that an apology means saying "I apologize for (my action whatever it is), will you forgive me?" It gives me an opportunity to tell her I forgive her and give her a fresh start.

    Some things we never do: discipline or spank out of anger; hit our child with our hands; spank without first talking to her about why she's being disciplined; discipline in front of other people; delay discipline until later. Because we don't delay discipline, I've had to leave a store or be late somewhere when she needed to be disciplined.

    We started this because it was recommend by older parents that we know and trust who have really wonderful kids who are older than we are and have kids of their own. I don't think it teaches our children to hit because we're not hitting them out of anger. It has been very helpful in correcting our daughter's behavior and changing her attitude.

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